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6 Things Holding You Back From Making a Difference

6 Things Holding You Back From Making a Difference

As a child, I used to dream of changing the world. But now, I no longer treat that dream as a reality.

That desire to dream big and make an impact still lives on inside me, but I’ve buried it deep inside my imagination and tend to think of it as a fantasy.

We all want to be world changers, but many of us give up on the idea as childish and unrealistic. Maybe we think we can’t make much difference as one person, or our contribution will be too small. We can become complacent, settling into our normal routines and giving up on the idea that we can really make an impact.

But recently I began changing my perspective on things. I realized that it is only a choice not to make a difference in the world, and an idiotic one at that. There are no real circumstances truly hindering us from making a difference, whether it’s in the lives of two people or 2 million, whether through giving of our time, talents, money, influence or whatever else.

If we search deep down in our hearts for the true reasons we choose not to engage toward making an impact, I believe we’ll find petty, avoidable circumstances with no depth to them. Here are just a few of those reasons:

1. Comfort

In our age of convenience and instant gratification, We are told that comfort is king, when in reality comfort is a lie. It’s funny how we race so hard to get from one place of comfort to the next. It’s how we are conditioned to behave in our society.

We believe life is best lived when we are lounging on the beach just watching the waves, but maybe life is better lived when we’re swimming the sea, working against the raging current.

Don’t let comfort dictate your willingness to engage in meaningful work. To really make an impact, you almost always have to step outside of your comfort zone. Be willing to get uncomfortable, and don’t give into thinking comfort is where you belong.

No smooth road leads to the top of the mountain; you only get there by climbing.

2. Entitlement

Entitlement is a selfish lie. It tells us we deserve things when we actually don’t. It has our best interest in mind, but the problem is that it holds this interest above the sake of others.

Making a difference is an inherently unselfish act. In its true nature, it lifts us out of ourselves to see the world from a higher perspective, one that highlights the needs of society and our ability to be the solution.

The truth is we don’t deserve anything, and If we simply keep telling ourselves what we feel we deserve, we’ll never truly be able to see the needs of others. This world we’ve been given cries out for a movement of people healing what has tainted her beauty. It’s up to us to let go of our entitlement and ask God to use us to bring about justice and change.

3. Apathy

In our modern age, we’re flooded with information about every problem, every cause, every heartbreaking conflict. The overwhelming amount of things we should care about can make it easier to just shut down and not care about anything.

Apathy is my archenemy. There are times when my heart doesn’t break, doesn’t budge a centimeter for the cause of others. My lack of compassion often translates into no interest.

But, I’ve learned that compassion works best like a muscle. It requires the exercise of involvement, stepping into the situations you wouldn’t normally deal with.

The more you steep yourself into the needs of others, the softer your heart will become.

4. Money

Quite possibly the greatest excuse to not making a difference is money. It seems like we always see the media highlight the generous actions of celebrities, and we start to believe that the only way we could make a change is if we have a certain amount of money. But this is a lie.

Money is useful, but it’s not everything. Even the poorest person can make a lasting change, because true change is measured in the heart and not in numbers. If we can affect how a person lives, interacts and sees the world, then we’ve made a difference.

Money doesn’t dictate our ability to make a change. It might help, but don’t forget about the little ways one can make a difference through small acts of great depth.

5. Time

Many people believe they’re busier than they actually are. When we pack our schedule, making a difference often comes last. We think we’ll get around to it when we have some spare time after we get everything else done.

The reality is we all have time to do something. It’s what we choose to do in the time we have that makes a difference. Many people might spend their downtime lying on the couch or surfing the Internet, but this is time that could be used for something more life giving.

The little amount of time we have carries with it the responsibility to make an impact. We could do great things with our time, but it all begins with accepting that burdensome responsibility or not.

Time is not our enemy, but how we treat our time is.

6. Yourself

In the end, the only true hindrance we have is the lies we use to justify our complacency. Underneath the petty falsehoods lies something true, something deep feeding our inaction. It might be a lack of courage or self-respect stopping us, but it’s time we filter through the excuses above and cut to solving the true matters that hold us back. Once we confront what’s stopping us, I believe change will be a natural result of us living our lives.

It’s time to sift through the pettiness of our excuses, and become part of the solution this world needs. It’s time to posture ourselves with change rather than schedule it. It’s time to make a difference by living lives of impact.

A version of this article appeared in 2014.

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